Cover 9781785907920

Of all revenge, the greatest is this: that which cometh suddenly, without expectation.


Queen Elizabeth I is dying, James I waiting to accede. But who will thrive, and who will fail, under the new king? Will it be the scholar Francis Bacon, whose brilliant mind is the envy of the court? Or his hated rival Edward Coke, already acclaimed as the greatest lawyer of his generation?

The Winding Stair tells the gripping story of these two founders of our modern world, and their bitter struggle for influence and power. It brings the palaces, parlours, parliaments and royal courts of Elizabethan and Jacobean England to life, giving a peerless view into the lives, thoughts and deeds of its protagonists.

Combining humour, wit and imagination with deep research, this novel is a dazzling synthesis of history and fiction that takes the genre to new places: an epic tale of jealousy and intrigue, which also holds a darkened mirror to our own contemporary politics.


“Masterly … I loved every page. The perfect sequel to Wolf Hall.”

Andrew Roberts

“An absolutely thrilling read. How does someone of deep intelligence, integrity and thoughtfulness navigate the corruptions, ambitions and duplicity of a parliament crammed with nothing but sycophants, place-servers and creeps? This is an engrossing and compelling blend of political thriller and pitch-perfect historical novel.”

Stephen Fry

“An Elizabethan House of Cards.”

Michael Dobbs

“Extremely impressive … The portraits of Bacon and Coke, the subtle but deadly clash of characters, the minefield of royal favouritism, the elegant corruption, the whole conveyed in the beautiful language of the era, brings that world to life in an extraordinary way.”

Antony Beevor

“A pacy retelling of the story.”

Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch FBA

“A remarkable tour de force which perfectly captures the essence of the story with uncommon ingenuity. Can there be a more fascinating tale in the whole of English history?”

Professor John Baker FBA

“This immensely clever, elegant and captivating novel shows just how closely fiction can align with history. It breathes the air of the late Elizabethan and Jacobean court and takes us utterly into their world. One might even suggest that Jesse Norman is the true inheritor of Hilary’s mantle.”

Suzannah Lipscomb

“Richly informed by historical research, The Winding Stair expertly captures the bitter rivalries of court politics and the ugly reality of political power.”

Ruth Scurr

“That rare thing: a historical novel that feels true to the period yet never slavish to its sources. Norman is a fine writer who will take you to the very edge of the action and hold you there, utterly transfixed.”

Daisy Dunn
Show more

Share this book

Buy this book

  • Hardback, 480 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785907920
  • 1 June 2023
    Available to pre-order
  • £20.00

  • eBook
  • ISBN: 9781785908026
  • 1 June 2023
    Available to pre-order
  • £14.99

About our eBooks

Similar titles:

Murder at the Bailey
The Secret Agent's Bedside Reader
The Three Lives of Dylan Thomas
Mrs Hudson's Diaries